The Gr 1 HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes over 1600m heads the Turffontein Standside meeting on Saturday and the talented Fort Ember looks hard to beat.
Fort Ember’s run in the Gr 1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m did not pan out well for her after she was caught wide early, yet she still did excellent work late to finish only a short-head behind the classy Rafeef. She was 7,15 lengths behind the Equus Horse Of The Year Legal Eagle and that was not at all a disgrace. This big Elusive Fort filly is full of class and she is getting better and better too, so from pole position under Anton Marcus she is made the best bet of the day. The main danger could be Safe Harbour, who finished runner up in all of the Gr 1 Cape Fillies Guineas, the Gr 1 Paddock Stakes and the Gr 1 SA Classic. The latter pair of races are both over 1800m, but she will probably be even better suited to this tough 1600m course and distance. She has a plum draw of six and the risk averse should include her in the exotics, as she should be cherry ripe having her third run since returning from Cape Town. Furthermore, she comes from the unstoppable yard of champion trainer Sean Tarry. Nother Russia doesn’t have an easy task on paper, especially in comparison to Bella Sonata with whom she is 4kg worse off for a mere 0,2 length beating. However, this horse looks to be a chip off the old block, her mother being the brilliant and courageous Mother Russia. She has a lovely long-striding action, despite like her mother not being the biggest, and from a good draw she could now make the step up to the top bracket. Star Express is very well regarded by the Justin Snaith yard and is raiding from Summerveld, which is at a third of the altitude of Johannesburg which makes it a better base to train for a Highveld race than Cape Town. She finished second in the Gr 1 Klawervlei Majorca Stakes from this identical draw and can make her presence felt under Anthony Delpech. Bella Sonata has to be considered on form, but has a tough draw to overcome. Juxtapose has proven class as the winner of the Gr 1 SA Fillies Classic and Gr 2 SA Oaks last year, but she would prefer further. Tahini seems to take advantage of races, which others are using as preparations. However, she won well last time and this race will prove whether she can do it on the big stage. Anna Pavlova was left with too much to do in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas, However, she has another wide draw to overcome. Heaps Of Fun won the Gauteng Fillies Guineas last year, so is a dark horse from a good draw. Negroamara was runner up in that race, but has not won a race for about a year-and-a-half. Intergalactic was only 1,4 lengths back in a weaker renewal of this race last year. Trophy Wife was further back, but was one of the best performers in a vintage crop so can’t be ignored. Piere Strydom has stuck with the talented Polyphonic and if she settles she could do well.
The value bet of the day is Count Tassilo, who doesn’t quite get 1600m and is now back to her ideal 1400m.
The Listed Spook Express Handicap over 2450m should be fought out by the trio at the top of the weights, but the big horse Zafira is the selection as she is ideally suited to this galloping course. Silver Stripe is the dark horse here as she is 3,5kg better off with Patchit Up Baby for a 1,5 length beating over 2200m, but that was on the Inside track, which does not suit Patchit Up Baby’s style.
G3 - Mooresbridge
G3 - Athasi
G3 - The Longines Sagaro Stakes (class 1)
G3 - The Meriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes (class 1)
Listed - Dahlia Plate